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Jul 24

Songwriter Series #6: Rodney Griffin

GriffinRodney Griffin is the people’s choice as the best songwriter in southern gospel music today, and in the last decade and a half.  And for good reason.  With thirteen Singing News #1 hits, and many more high on the charts, he is one of the genre’s most prolific hitmakers.  Even more than the hits, however, I believe gospel fans love his unique personality, his tender and humble spirit, and the sincerity of his Christian walk.  All of these are reasons he is not just a fan favorite, but a hero of the faith to many, including me.

When I think of Rodney Griffin songs, two words come to mind: “simple truth”.  He is unparalleled in the ability God has given him to draw out a nugget from the Bible, and put it to music in an engaging way.  Many times have I heard one of his songs for the first time, and came away saying “Wow, I’ve never thought of that story in that way before.”  And my understanding of that particular truth of God’s Word is instantly strengthened.  I will never again think about Joseph of Arimathaea (“He’ll Carry Me”), Mary, Martha’s sister (“He Is Loved”), Judas Iscariot (“He Washed My Feet”), the garment of Jesus the soldiers parted (“Common Garments”), or the sign above Jesus’ head on the cross (“This Is Mercy”) without thinking about what I learned from a Rodney Griffin song.

The relationship between Rodney Griffin and Greater Vision is incredibly beneficial to both parties.  Wouldn’t every group love to have in their ranks one of the great songwriters of their time?  And wouldn’t every songwriter love to have one of the top groups of their time as a direct outlet?  Greater Vision has recorded dozens of Griffin’s songs, but many more are recorded by artists across the genre, including some of the best quartet songs in the last decade, recorded by the likes of the Kingdom Heirs, Triumphant Quartet, and the Kingsmen.  My music collection contains 184 unique Rodney Griffin songs, second only to Kyla Rowland.  See below for some more figures.

Unique songs in my collection: 184

Total songs (including duplicate versions): 278

Most common artists:

  • Greater Vision – 144
  • Kingdom Heirs – 28
  • Whisnants – 11
  • Perrys – 9
  • Kingsmen – 7
  • Mark Trammell Trio/Quartet – 7
  • Triumphant Quartet – 6

Songs with 4 or more versions:

  • He’d Still Been God – 7
  • My Name Is Lazarus – 6
  • Just One More Soul – 5
  • God Wants to Hear You Sing – 4
  • He Had to Rise – 4
  • He Locked the Gates – 4

Oldest Recording: “More and More Like You”, Greater Vision, Serving a Risen Savior (1994)

Newest Recording: Saved Sealed and Going, Inspirations, No Two Ways About It (2013)

 

Now comes the part where I normally list my personal favorite songs by the subject songwriter.  I decided to make it a little easier on myself by splitting his songs into three categories.  Griffin is well-known for writing catchy, sometimes even tongue-tying, uptempo songs.  He is also adept at crafting powerful anthems and ballads, making good use of voices like Gerald Wolfe’s.  And then there are the more quiet, contemplative works, often sung masterfully by Griffin himself, and always with a moving message.  His versatility shows in that there are lots of incredible songs that can be put in each category, and it was still a difficult job to rank my favorites.  (I know not every song fits squarely in one of these three boxes, but I did the best I could.)

Fast

  1. “He Locked the Gates”, Kingdom Heirs, When You Look at Me (2009)
  2. “I Know I’m Going There”, Kingdom Heirs, Forever Changed (2004)
  3. “God’s Grace Is Sufficient”, Greater Vision, When I See the Cross (1997)
  4. “My Name Is Lazarus”, Greater Vision, Far Beyond This Place (1999)
  5. “He’d Still Been God”, Greater Vision, When I See the Cross (1997)
  6. “I’ve Never Been Loved”, Kingdom Heirs, Forever Changed (2004)
  7. “He Lifted Me”, Kingdom Heirs, City of Light (2000)
  8. “Paid in Full (Through Jesus Amen)”,Greater Vision, My Favorite Place (2005)
  9. “Going on with the Song”, Kingdom Heirs, Going on with the Song (2003)
  10. “Looking for the Grace”, Greater Vision, For All He’s Done (2013)

 

Powerful

  1. “He’ll Carry Me”, Greater Vision, Faces (2004)
  2. “God Saw a Cross”, Kingsmen, Missing People (2009)
  3. “Soon We Will See”, Greater Vision, Live at First Baptist Atlanta (2002)
  4. “If You Knew Him”, Perrys, Almost Morning (2009)
  5. “If Only Just a Few”, Mark Trammell Trio, Always Have a Song (2008)
  6. “God Wants to Hear You Sing”, Greater Vision, Perfect Candidate (2001)
  7. “All the Way”, Greater Vision, When I See the Cross (1997)
  8. “Just One More Soul”, Greater Vision, Far Beyond This Place (1999)
  9. “They Should Have Cried Holy”, Greater Vision, Live at First Baptist Atlanta (2002)
  10. “Just Pray”, Greater Vision, Far Beyond This Place (1999)

 

Contemplative/Mid-tempo

  1. “A Pile of Crowns”, Greater Vision, Live at First Baptist Atlanta (2002)
  2. “With All the Many Miracles”, Greater Vision, Live at First Baptist Atlanta (2002)
  3. “Faces”, Greater Vision, Faces (2004)
  4. “Common Garments”, Greater Vision, When I See the Cross (1997)
  5. “It Pays to Pray”, Greater Vision, Not Alone (2008)
  6. “He Washed My Feet”, Greater Vision, Far Beyond This Place (1999)
  7. “The Voice I Could Not Resist”, Greater Vision, My Favorite Place (2005)
  8. “Preacher Tell Me Like It Is”, Greater Vision, For All He’s Done (2013)
  9. “The Spirit of Brokenness”, Greater Vision, The Shepherds Found a Lamb (1996)
  10. “This Is Mercy”, Greater Vision, For All He’s Done (2013)

 

OK, if you’re still hanging in there with me…thanks!  Now I’d like to hear from you!  What are some of your favorites by this songwriting master?  Any particular ways in which his songs have had an impact on you?

5 comments

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  1. donald stephenson

    Contemplative/Mid-tempo,

    “This is Mercy” is one of the most moving, enriching songs I have ever heard. The words paint a picture with a message I had never considered. The best song on their latest CD.

    Fast,

    “My Name is Lazarus” catches one by surprise in the way it builds to the title. Great music and words.

    Don

  2. Tami

    Another Powerful song is “It’s Under The Blood”. Is there a place I can find the words and chords to this?
    I’m a member of Friendship Baptist Church of Hixson, TN and our youth choir would ‘take-off’ with this! I could see
    God moving in and taking over the service when this song is presented. HE does “inhabit” our praises!!!
    God bless you for obeying the Holy Spirit with your songs. Can’t wait to work on this one.
    Thank you so very much.

  3. mimi

    love “if only just a few”, is there somewhere to find chords to this? id love to play it with our worship team. thanks

  4. Audrey Mabry

    Greater Vision just sang at our church tonight. It’s the second time they have been with us. Last year they were there three nights in a row. I love the song “Preacher” but about 2 weeks ago my dad past away. He was the most humble soul winning person I have ever known and always said he didn’t know what he had done in his life that would make Jesus proud. He loved Jesus more than you could imagine. No one talked to him that he didn’t witness to them. Rodney’s song “Faces” is the exact testominy of my dad’s life. I had the words printed on the back of his memorial card and played in the background of his picture memorial. That song will always be representative of my dad’s life. I just know his face filled with tears when Jesus told him to turn around. He never realized what he had done for Jesus here on earth. Thank you Rodney for that wonderful song and you didn’t even know my daddy.

  5. Joyce Dowdy

    Any chance of getting the words for “I Believe” that he wrote?

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